Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists see human kidney development through fruit fly eyes

13.06.2005


The compound eye of a fruit fly (left) and a micrograph of the cells that make up the eye


The laws of physics combine with the mutual attraction of two proteins to create the honeycomb pattern of fruit fly eyes, say molecular biologists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. This same combination of forces forms the delicate filtering structures of the mammalian kidney.

The findings, reported in the June issue of Developmental Cell, provide a new understanding of how individual cells find their niche during organ development. They also mean that the fruit fly eye can now become a fast, inexpensive system for gaining insight into how kidneys develop in mammals and why development sometimes goes awry.

"We’ve challenged scientists who study the development of organs such as eyes and kidneys to think about physics," says Ross Cagan, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular biology and pharmacology. "In the developing fruit fly eye, we found that cells change shape and move into their proper placement because they want to minimize the free energy of the system."



Just as molecules of oil floating in water will gather together to exclude water molecules, cells with "sticky" molecules on their surface will gather together in clumps to exclude "non-sticky" cells during organ development. This property of cell adhesion has been previously proposed as a key to moving different cell types into the right positions as developing organs change from an immature, disorganized state to a mature, functional state.

Cagan and his colleague Sujin Bao, Ph.D., research associate in molecular biology and pharmacology, have expanded this principle by showing that cell types possessing two different adhesion molecules, instead of just one, will form a pattern in which one cell type surrounds the other cell type. They found that two proteins, named Roughest and Hibris, play central roles in this process during late stages of development of the fruit fly eye.

"Before the late stages of development, sets of primary cells are surrounded by a disorganized net of support cells," Cagan says. "But then the cells start producing either Roughest or Hibris on their surfaces, and you see a tight honeycomb pattern of cells take shape."

Cagan and Bao found that the primary cells in the "holes of the net" express Hibris and the support cells that form the net express Roughest. Roughest and Hibris proteins stick to each other, but they don’t stick to their own kind.

As the proteins appear on the surface of the cells, the laws of physics kick in to move the support cells into positions determined by the energy of attraction. Because Roughest is strongly attracted to Hibris, but not to other Roughest molecules, the support cells are attracted to the surfaces of the primary cells but not to each other. In competition with its neighbors, each Roughest-expressing support cell stretches out as far as it can along a primary cell. Support cells that express less Roughest lose the competition for primary-cell attachment and die off.

At the end of the process, a neat one-cell-thick hexagonal wall of support cells surrounds the primary cells. The repetition of this pattern across the entire fly eye is responsible for the regular honeycomb pattern of the 800 optical units present in the fruit fly compound eye.

"We and others searched for a long time for human equivalents to Roughest and Hibris," Cagan says. "Surprisingly, they were found in the kidney."

The equivalent kidney proteins are called Neph1 and Nephrin. They draw together certain kidney-cell junctions in a tight but porous seal that filters urea and other unwanted molecules from the blood vessels within kidney nephrons, structures that filter waste from the blood. Without functioning Neph1 and Nephron, kidneys do not filter properly, leading to neuropathy. Alterations within nephrons also have been linked to hypertension.

The compound eye of a fruit fly (left) and a micrograph of the cells that make up the eye
The mammalian-kidney versions and the fruit-fly-eye versions of these proteins are fairly specific to their own organs. That is, Neph1 and Nephron are not widely distributed in the mammalian body, and they have no close equivalents in the more primitive kidneys of other kinds of organisms. Roughest and Hibris are found mainly in the late stages of development of the compound eyes of insects related to fruit flies. Interestingly, Neph1 and Nephron are more like Roughest and Hibris than they are like any other protein found in mammals.

"The evolution of these similar proteins in two very distantly related groups of organisms and for these similar purposes suggests that the two systems, the developing kidney and the developing fly eye, used these proteins to solve the same problem—the problem of how to build intricate, fine-structured, tissues from a loose collection of cells," Cagan says.

"The questions we are asking in the fruit fly—about how cells are sorted—are questions we couldn’t dream of asking by using the mammalian kidney," Cagan continues. "The fruit fly eye is a much more tractable and faster moving system. When we make discoveries in the fly, such as the roles of Roughest and Hibris, we can then look at the mammalian kidney equivalents, but now in a much more knowledgeable way. Hopefully, we can ’fast-forward’ research on kidney development."

Gwen Ericson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://mednews.wustl.edu/news/page/normal/5371.html
http://www.wustl.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cryo-electron microscopy achieves unprecedented resolution using new computational methods
24.03.2017 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

nachricht How cheetahs stay fit and healthy
24.03.2017 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>